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APS Conference for undergraduate Women in physics a success

 West Virginia University was chosen as a 2024 site institution.
CUWiP 2024 artwork by Liz Pavlovic
Over 100 undergraduate women and gender minorities braved the snowy winter conditions last weekend to attend the American Physical Society's (APS) Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP), hosted by West Virginia University. 

The conference is an initiative of APS which works to encourage and promote women and gender minorities to enter and continue their interests in the world of physics and astronomy.  The three-day conference (January 19-21, 2024) encourages undergraduate women to continue in physics by providing them with the opportunity to experience a professional conference, information about graduate school and professions in physics, and access to other women in physics of all ages with whom they can share experiences, advice, and ideas.Group photo of CUWiP 2024

Student at poster sessionThe attendees had their choice of various parallel sessions led by over 50 invited speakers who discussed topics such as the two body problem, speed networking, resume building, science communications, graduate school, Python coding, public policy, and careers in physics.  Research talks included physics education, astrophysics, condensed matter, nuclear physics, plasma and space physics, and medical physics.

West Virginia University applied to host this conference and was awarded the honor Julianne Pollard Larkinof serving as a 2024 site institution. The conference included a plenary lecture by medical physicist Dr. Julianne Pollard Larkin (right) of the MD Anderson Cancer Center and a keynote lecture by astrophysicist Dr. Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who discovered  radio pulsars in 1967.

With only 25 percent of all physics bachelor’s degrees awarded to women (as of 2020), initiatives are clearly needed to encourage women to enter and remain in the field. The more surprising aspect of that statistic is the fact that this is the highest percentage of women earning a bachelor's degree in physics ever. So while progress is being made, we still have a way to go for full equity and inclusion in the fields of physics and astronomy.

A few attendees were quoted by APS on their experience at the WVU CUWiP.

Student at poster session “CUWiP was such a transformational experience for me!”

 “I realized that the various professors here and mentors at APS would help me navigate the challenges in my undergraduate career and I loved the talks given by different speakers. It makes me feel propelled to embark on this trajectory of mine. ”

“My highlight was the career advice panels offered; the many career panels explaining all of the different paths you can take from earning a bachelor’s degree.”

With the support of many sponsors, both at West Virginia University and beyond, the conference was a huge success.